You’ve Got Email, Not E-mail.

The other day, this creature of habit encountered something that shook her life. I am not talking about the recent quakes that have been – literally – shaking our part of the world, but the entry written by Paul Carr did make me snap out of my lethargy.  So what could have been so world-shaking?

E-mail. E-mailing. E-mailed.

No matter how you use the word or which form of the word you use, according to the Associate Press, the official spelling is now email. ((Source: TechCrunch)) On March 18, AP published a press release stating that the style guidelines are being updated and that the hyphen in e-mail is being removed. ((AP’s Press Release)) Here’s a snippet from that advisory.

email Acceptable in all references for electronic mail. Many email or Internet addresses use symbols such as the at symbol (@), or the tilde (~) that cannot be transmitted correctly by some computers. When needed, spell them out and provide an explanatory editor’s note. Use a hyphen with other e- terms: e-book, e-business, e-commerce.

More so, the words smartphone and cellphone are to be spelled the way I just wrote them.

I suppose that this is a prime example of how language evolves. Call me a stubborn gal, but for someone who has been a stickler for the use of that hyphen, this news is not welcome. Forget the fact that it is easier to write email without the hyphen. Forget the fact that I just might be the only person still using e-mail (the spelling, obviously). Forget the fact that AP and its host of editors know ten thousand things more than I do. The change from e-mail to email just doesn’t sit well with me. As Paul Carr said in his post: “Out of my cold, dead hands, AP. Out of my cold, dead hands.” ((Pardon me for ranting in this entry. We all have our days, don’t we? Oh, and just for fun, check out AP’s Contact Page, which seems to need an update as per their new guidelines. ;)))

What about you, readers? Have you been using email or e-mail? Which spelling do you prefer, and will you follow AP’s addition to its style guide?

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16 responses
  1. Joe Taylor Jr. Avatar

    The email change is understandable, though it will be weird to get used to. I’m very glad about “smartphone.” I had a fight with an editor recently because he didn’t know what a “smart phone” or a “smartphone” was. I will delight in showing him the AP Stylebook.

    1. Dale R. Wilsey Jr. Avatar

      Odd that I read this today after posting a new entry on my very own blog last night containing the now archaic spelling of “email”. I was always on the fence as to whether or not I liked or disliked the hyphen within the word, but now I feel it will take some time getting used to it sans-hyphen (see what I did there).

      The AP: They may take our hyphens, but they may never take…our ability to complain about taking our hyphens?

      Regardless, I will probably continue to use the hyphenated version for some time until I beat it into my head that it “doesn’t belong”.

  2. Edward P. Carney Jr. Avatar
    Edward P. Carney Jr.

    That TechCrunch article is cute:

    “Daddy,” generations of children as yet unborn will ask, “where were you when the Associated Press removed the hyphen from the word ‘e-mail’?”

    But why is everybody acting as if the AP has sole, uncontested power to decide these things? Their press release itself states that they’re making this change in their own guidelines in order to reflect increasingly common usage. It’s the fault of the population for using the lazy spelling in the first place, and the new guideline is not written in stone. Unless I’m writing a press release or an article that is meant to be in AP style, I’ll still be using the hyphen, because I think it’s better. It still means “electronic mail,” and even in its shortened form, the compound calls for the use of a hyphen. It also makes more sense in that I believe “email” ought to be pronounced eh-MAY-uhl.

  3. Sophia Avatar

    That’s an interesting change that I didn’t notice in my AP Stylebook. I don’t think I’ll be able to switch from e-mail to email so quickly. I’ve been writing ‘e-mail’ for so many years that it seems wrong to not add the hyphen.

  4. John Soares Avatar

    At least we’re getting some clarity. I continue to use e-book most of the time instead of ebook, but perhaps we’ve officially dropped the hyphen there also.

  5. P.S. Jones Avatar

    I hated that hyphen. It was an unnecessary leftover from the Internet stone age and the only time I used it was when I was absolutely required to write in AP Style. But I wish they had left it where it was unless they wanted to do it universally. I believe they’re leaving it in e-book, e-commerce, etc. Now, if only we can stop capitalizing Internet. It’s not Radio or Television, right?

  6. Skippy Avatar

    I’m more surprised about making cellphone one word. I didn’t see that coming.

  7. Sandals Avatar

    I am tired of the hyphen. As an editor, I’ve used it for years, but it’s time for it to evolve the way many compound nouns have gone. I agree with P.S. Go one way or the other with all of them and stop capitalizing Internet! I don’t capitalize cat, so why should I capitalize internet?

  8. Ioana Avatar

    I don’t understand, why should you care about what the AP says? Don’t you have an Academy or some other cultural institution that makes such decisions? In my country it’s the linguists of the national Academy who decide on the official version of a word.

    1. Joe Taylor Jr. Avatar

      Most U.S. newspapers and magazines use the AP Stylebook as their guide. Submitting something that’s “incorrect” by AP standards means either I get negative feedback from an editor, or worse: I won’t get paid.

  9. Carradee Avatar

    E-mail forever. You’re cutting out letters, there.

    When writing for myself, I’ll ignore those changed smart phone and cell phone spellings, too. We don’t write rotaryphone or housephone, do we?

  10. Pinar Tarhan Avatar

    Ouch…I am all for the spelling e-mail. Email just sounds so wrong and weird to me. Crap. Why consider e-mail different from e-commerce or e-book?

  11. Tiffany Willis Avatar

    What about web-site and on-line? I’ve been writing website and online for years, and was forced to write it differently by my former company (a technology-ish company no less). How do you guys write it?

  12. Chester Avatar

    I am traditional in many things — even the King JAmes version of the Bible — and e-mail will remain part of that tradition (as long as I can get away with it).

    (P.S., glad to see you kept “…comments via e-mail”, below 🙂

  13. Dave Avatar

    I’m glad to see others take these little details as seriously as I do. I’ve written it “e-mail” for as long as I can remember, and I hate the thought of changing. And I’ve capitalized “Internet,” too – another tough habit to break.

  14. Tara Avatar

    You are not alone. I’m not a fan of email versus e-mail. The first one looks, well, stupid to me. And then why not ebooks, ereaders, etc.?

    Have they removed the hyphen from free-lance (which looks stupid)?

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